The McManual

Blogging my little heart out in poetry and prose.

Category: Someotherville

Self Publishing Requires Self Confidence


Hellp.  Ha, I meant to write Hello, but maybe hellp is better.  It more accurately reflects how I feel right now.  I have been putting off blogging because I was asked some questions about self publishing, I told people to follow my blog, ( I have no idea whether they did or not) and now I feel obligated to sound like an expert and write things that will help people.

But here’s the thing, I’m not an expert – I’m going in fairly blind here, and I don’t know what I’m doing at all.  But I’m determined that this is going to happen.  This book – Someotherville, which I do love and which so many of my friends and family (and a few strangers) have financially backed through Kickstarter – is going to come out.  And that’s that.  So I guess it’s time to stop stewing and get on with what needs doing.

I should receive the funds from Kickstarter on Monday.  That means that I can go ahead  and purchase ISBNs and once I have an ISBN, I can officially get permission to reprint the John Ashbery poem that I need permission for, and then I can get my galleys printed and send out advance copies to reviewers.

I should also write a press release to say that my kickstarter campaign was successful and that I’m gearing up to publish the week before Valentine’s day.  And I should start writing to local bookstores explaining that this is coming out, and that I’d be more than happy to come out and do a reading.  Oh, and I should write a letter to Minnesota Atheists thanking them for their support in putting my information in their weekly newsletter, and I should also write to spinning and weaving guilds to let them know that they might be interested in the controlling metaphor of the book.

When I write it out like that, it seems simple enough.  Easy, really.  No problem.  No reason to be absolutely terrified, right?

That’s what I keep telling myself.  🙂  Ok.  Brave face.  Time to be bold.

Thanks for reading – if I write any more right now, it will just be a way to procrastinate.  🙂 S

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Great Title, Now What?


I am concurrently reading several books about self publishing.  Most of the information is geared toward non-fiction writers, and I find it interesting that there is probably a lot more money to be made in non-fiction than fiction, but almost all I read is fiction.  Well, with the exception of books on how to publish books…

The funny thing to me is that almost everything I read about publishing says that writing is easy, and that the real difficulty is marketing.  They make it sound like if you come up with a great title that most of your work is done.  I suppose this might be true, since I haven’t really tried marketing yet, but I don’t think that writing is easy  for most people.  Maybe it’s because the books are marketed to writers, the authors assume that writing is easy for their readers.  But as an English teacher, I tell you I see a lot more examples of how writing is difficult for people than how it’s supposedly so easy.

My point is if you are a writer and you see this sort of comment, keep in mind that it’s not really true.  Yes, writing is easy if you are a good writer.  But it’s not easy for everyone.  And the idea that “everyone has a book in them” is ludicrous.  Yes, there are a lot of books written every year, but not everyone is writing one or wants to write a book.  Sheesh.  And even if writing is easy for you, you still have to come up with a good idea that’s not a cliche and you still have to write it effectively.

I guess I’m getting defensive because I already have a career that many people routinely denigrate – I teach high school English, and I often hear that teachers are “a dime a dozen” and of course we get blamed for many of society’s problems, and now I am looking to (while still teaching) start my own small publishing company dealing with the dime a dozen world of fiction novels.  Well hell.  But I’m doing it anyway, because I’m stubborn like that, and I happen to think my book is terrific and that maybe a few people will be willing to read it.

I want to address one more thing.  I was reading a guide to finding an agent this morning, just in case I should find any information to change my mind about self publishing, and I ran across a line that said to avoid the desperation of self publication.  But everywhere you turn, you find information about how there are only 6 major publishing houses left, and 300 midsized ones, while there are 81,000 small presses or self publishers.  These 6 major publishers are receiving 3000-5000 query letters a week(!) or so one of my books claims.   That’s a hell of a lot of query letters.  Seems like you’d have to be more desperate to send out a letter based on those odds than just going ahead and doing the work yourself.

I don’t think that self publishing is desperate.  I think it makes sense.  Yes, there is a lot to learn, and yes, it’s a lot of work for one book and things would be more efficient if you had a stable of books you were promoting, but you have to work with what you’ve got.  I don’t expect to make a lot of money off of this deal, but I do hope to at least break even.  Waiting around for an agent or publisher to notice my little sweet book would be another form of breaking even – it wouldn’t cost me anything, but I wouldn’t get any readers out of the deal either, and that’s all I really want, readers.

If you are reading this because you are thinking of self publishing I wish you luck.  I wish I was experienced enough to be able to say that it will work out for you, but of course I can’t know that.  But I do know your chances of success are much greater if you keep trying and don’t quit – so… keep trying and don’t quit!!  🙂  Sheila

Pennywick Press – My New Adventure


I have been working my way up to publishing my first novel for a while now.  The writing has been nearly complete for over a year – I have one last sweep to do for any grammar or word choice changes I want to make, but the story is done.

When I completed the first draft, well, first off I was shocked at the intensity  of emotion that comes with writing the last line of a big project – I was beside myself with joy.  But secondly, I started to think that maybe someone else would want to read it.  Maybe a few someones.  So I started reading books about how to get an agent and how to get published.

I wasn’t completely ignorant of the process – I have always been attracted to books like  The Writer’s Guide and magazines about writing, but this was the first time that I had something to put in a query letter.

I spent a lot of time writing queries, researching appropriate editors and agents to send them to, and sending them out.  I believe I spent several months doing this on the side, off and on.  I never received any feedback other than a form letter.  It was a lot of work, and all for naught. But I’m glad that I spent that time.

Writing about my novel, writing out a synopsis and finding “hooks” to quickly introduce what it is about was useful – the process helped me to see what still needed to be done with character development and storyline.  But I don’t think that the process got me any closer to being published.

After I got tired of submitting queries to people I know receive 500 letters a week, I started thinking about publishing it myself.  Luckily for me and other authors, things have changed drastically since I started reading about publishing.  It used to be that books about publishing wouldn’t even really address self publishing – it was considered vanity publishing.  Now I’m seeing articles and books about it all the time.

And that’s what I’m going to do.  I’m starting my own small publishing company, I’m calling it Pennywick Press, and I will probably only publish books that either I or my husband write.  And I can’t wait to get started.

My first project, Someotherville, will be published on June 12th, and I plan to keep updating this blog on the whole process.  Hopefully I will figure everything out!  Like I said, it will be an adventure.  Wish me luck!

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